from posts written by:
WeaversFever, Powder Skier, JoeyJo,
Peanut41, Scherezada, Zeppelin, Yankee1, Erised & Mangababe
Part of our fascination with Dr. Kerry Weaver's Intimate Firefighter Friend took shape in the creation of a history for Lt. Sandy Lopez. Only the smallest bits of background information were given to us in the episodes of Season 8 -- Chuny's cousin Rico went to High School with her; the brief glimpse of her apartment in "Beyond Repair"; she likes hockey; and the facts surrounding her employment as a firefighter at Chicago Fire Department Engine Co. 38.
Where did she come from? How did she grow up? What made her the strong, feisty woman she is today?
Here's what we came up with...we hope you enjoy it!
Sandy was raised in a large Catholic family. Her father came to America from Mexico when he was very young. Her mother is from Puerto Rico. They worked hard to raise their children and to keep them away from trouble. She had several brothers and sisters. Her oldest sister was married with 3 kids by the time she was in her early 20's. One of her brothers is a priest. She is the favorite Aunt of all her nieces and nephews.
Her family lived in New York City in a small row home, kind of the lower-middle class section of town. Growing up, Sandy had more guy friends than girls. She just didn't relate as well to the girls in her neighborhood. They were too tied up in the girly girl traditions. She preferred playing sports with the guys -- pick-up basketball, stickball in the streets. Sandy was always a bit of a rebel, a tomboy. Always wanting to do everything the guys could do, only do it better. They guys loved her. She was a bit younger than the crowd she hung around, but they protected her like their little sister.
Her mother was shocked when she asked their parish priest if she could be an "altar-boy" at church. That was their first real inclination that she might be more than just a little "different."
Her family moved to Chicago just before high school. Though she was different from her classmates, she was able to fit in because of her great personality and undeniable good looks. She was involved in sports and clubs and being so gorgeous she was desired by both men and women. This fact is what has had a big impact on her confidence.
Sandy has for the most part been lucky to have not been the first-born daughter. Her older sister, Elena, was the first to bear all the responsibility of carrying on the family traditions -- first Holy Communion, Catholic education, Quinceanera, a big wedding, and the first grandchildren. Too young to protest, she did have a formal First Communion and attended Catholic school up to the 8th grade. (She must have been adorable in those little plaid skirts.)
The rest of those traditions were another thing entirely. Under great pressure from her grandmother and her older sister, Sandy did indeed have a Quinceanera for her 15th birthday. By this time, she knew for certain that she was gay, but wasn't ready to deal with the family yet. Being Latin Catholic...such things weren't acknowledged or even spoken about. She knew that her mother had an older brother who never married and had the same male "roommate" for at least as long as she could remember. No one ever said anything about uncle Anthony and his friend Roberto. It was the big pink elephant in the middle of the room that no one talked about.
It took the folly of her "coming of age" party to finally drag her out of the closet. Like all young latinas, she "celebrated" her arrival as a young woman by having a fabulously huge celebration, including the lacy white wedding dress and all her girlfriends in similar attire paired up with tuxedoed young men as her attendants. There was only one thing wrong -- she hated it. The fancy dress, the formal escort, (who of course was not of her choosing, but a nice boy who was the son of her father's best friend), the pretending to be interested in her "date"… The whole orchestrated affair was so awful that Sandy decided, then and there, she would rather come out to her family as a lesbian than have to continue with this charade. Coming out party indeed! It is precisely because she went through a lot of pain with her very close-knit family when she came out, that she figures if she could do it, anyone can and should.
Even after she came out of the closet, Sandy didn't really date anyone from her school. She had a small close-knit group of girls who were really her friends, nothing more. She did meet and date girls from other schools and even a woman in college. That relationship broke her heart, but ended up teaching her a lot of lessons in love. Sandy still has a penchant for older women.
She's incredibly proud, stubborn, strong, loyal, and has a quick temper.... yet, underneath all that armor lies a very passionate heart. Love, family, and friends are very important to her. She will do anything for the people close to her. Not quick to fall in love, but once she does it's all or nothing. It is these qualities that attracted Kerry to her.
She enjoys playing with the kids in her family. Likes to take them to baseball games, hockey games, etc. She attends their soccer games when she's not on duty. She may not be a "soccer Mom," but she is a "soccer Aunt." She is searching for the "right woman" to spend her life with because family is so important to her. That's why "she don't got time" for someone who is not out. She wants a long-term relationship and does not want to waste time on a relationship with no future. And undoubtedly, that future would include a family, their children either by birth or by adoption (a child doesn't have to be biologically hers to be "hers").
Sandy has the respect and admiration of her fellow firefighters. After graduating from the Fire Academy at the top of her class (which by the way had only 3 other women)...she passed the written and physical tests with ease. All that was left was to wait for the answers to her applications. Sandy hoped that she'd be able to stay in metro Chicago, but if all she got offered was a spot with a crew in the suburbs, she'd still jump at the chance. Women had been gradually infiltrating the Police, Fire, and EMT services since the late 70's.... but there were still few women in actual service. She hoped that she could up the number by one.
Her prayers were answered...she was offered a spot in Ladder Company B of Battalion 38, right in the thick of things. It was a well-known firehouse...that had always been an "old boys" network, and many of the men carried a legacy. Tradition can be both good and bad.... being the first woman in the crew, Sandy broke one and began another.
Firefighters are notorious for hazing new crew. The guys of the 38 were really hard on her...for being a rookie, for being a girl, and for being a dyke. It was traditional that the rookies got it hard for the first year they were in service - stupid pranks, nasty comments, and all the shit work. Re-coiling hoses, washing the truck, pictures of naked men posted on her locker, you name it - they threw it at her. The one thing the boys didn't count on was that she didn't flinch. Rookie Lopez took it all in stride...doing everything she could to be the best rookie they'd ever had regardless of her gender and sexual preference.
Eventually they ran out of steam and began to admire the feisty woman in their midst. She was a fine addition to their crew. The first Christmas she spent in the firehouse (working, of course) the boys got together and bought her a present. No, it wasn't lingerie or something equally embarrassing; instead they gave her a St. Florian's medal. They said it was the last tradition left for her passage as a rookie. All the men gave them to their wives and girlfriends to wear. It was to bring them home safe. She was floored...it meant that she was now "one of the guys". It also meant that they accepted who she was, and that they hoped she'd have someone to give it to.